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Skilling oneself in the age of ‘new collared jobs’

There was a time when generalists and specialists made up the entire working-professionals-world. When protectionism and globalisation were two ends of economic policy and CEOs were expected to drive sales, not get into the nitty-gritty of organisational dynamics and constants. Engineers were brought in to resolve technical problems, marketers were expected to create awareness and sales was supposed to drive everyone home.

And then, there is today.

Where the CEO is expected to not only define top lines and bottom lines for his own professional family, but for the industry at large, a decade down the line. Where the CFO is expected to understand how technology and analytics may bring her or his hiring costs down, thereby reducing opex in favour of capex. Where the CTO and the CMO, curiously enough, as defined by Gartner, meet over coffee and discuss how technology and marketing could merge, than work in silos, in order to drive stakeholder value.

Professionals today are expected to know way more than they were a decade ago. Wealth is essentially knowledge, as opined George Gilder, noted American investor, theorist, economist and best-selling author, and today’s millennial is expected to be wealthy, and how. Those who progress are those who know more than others, and those who rise while progressing are those who know it all.

How then does one go about gaining knowledge that makes Warren Buffett the Oracle of Omaha and made Steve Jobs the turnaround CEO? What is expected of such superhumans is that they save organisations in dire financial straits, hire people bigger than them to make companies of giants, lead conglomerates into the digital era, market monoliths like hotcakes, walk the talk in operations when their COO needs backing and yet talk growth strategy with investors, and all of this before breakfast.

These are what can today be defined as new collared jobs, those that combine the generalist, the specialist and the super-performer. And to be honest, not everyone is ready for the grind. Mind you, each and every person is capable of achieving such dizzying heights, but not everyone is ready for the years spent in academia to get there. In fact, it is not only willingness, but often factors such as affordability of time, money and resources in general and their lack, that leaves people feeling like they want to do much more, but have not had opportunity knock on their door.

However, it takes more than just hypotheses to write the human mind off. Leading universities around the world, from the IIMs to the XLRIs have today opted in to helping the working professional achieve her or his dreams. From ELPs to EPGCs on offer, the world is today’s eager professionals’ oyster.

It then rests upon the individual to take upon herself or himself full advantage of the opportunities on offer. Whether these be strategy courses from INSEAD or Executive Post Graduate Programs from the IIM Kozhikode, broadening the horizons of ones mind is today affordable and a viable option for all. And these courses are freely available across the length and breadth of India and find several patrons among today’s millennials, to the extent that 93% of those in India skilling themselves for rapidly evolving job roles are between the age of 18 and 39, higher than the global average of 83%.

Whether it be the 56-year old founder of Portea, K. Ganesh, who did a course on healthcare management before coming up with the start-up or R. Sridhar, Head – Corporate Human Resources, ITC, there are many who swear by upskilling to upgrade one’s future.

Among courses on offer here are those provided by legacy brands such as The Second Wind, an initiative of Times Professional Learning, the education arm of the media behemoth, the Times Group. With learning ranging from Financial Management and Human Resource Management to Operations Management and Strategic Management (among others), there are several options available for the eager to grasp with both hands as they prepare to beat the bell curve.

With the centuries old legacy of the Times Group, combined with its reputation as a global knowledge disseminator and media conglomerate, The Second Wind provides candidates with an apt opportunity to prepare for roles and responsibilities which may fast track their careers to the top of the value chain.

It therefore becomes imperative for professionals to ensure that there is no gap or lacunae in their understanding of a business, whether looked through the lenses of a specialist or a generalist. Courses such as The Second Wind do after all make knowledge, or shall we call it wealth, available to those who are willing, at their fingertips, thus making growth of the mind a pure function of growth in one’s career.

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